Mahatma Gandi once famously said “Be the change you want to see in the world”. However, for most of us the reality is that we find change difficult. Whether it’s changing jobs, moving home or far more challenging issues like dealing with redundancy, divorce or illness, change is rarely easy.
When it comes to countries dealing with change, just like the rest of us they don’t find it easy but some are better prepared than others. Last week the UK based risk analysts Maplecroft published a Natural Hazards Risk Atlas looking at how different countries deal with climate related changes such as flooding and tropical cyclones.
The atlas found that countries like Japan, USA, China, Taiwan and Mexico had the highest risk to natural disasters but they also had the potential to recover the most quickly due to their economic strength, strong governance, building regulations and disaster preparedness. In contrast the emerging economies of South East Asia including Bangladesh, the Philippines, Myanmar, India and Vietnam were at the most risk overall because their economies and infrastructure were the least able to recover from natural shocks.
“High exposure to natural hazards in these countries are compounded by a lack of resilience to combat the effects of a disaster should one emerge,” said Helen Hodge, Head of Maps and Indices at Maplecroft. “Given the exposure of key financial and manufacturing centres, the occurrence of a major event would be likely to have significant impacts on the total economic output of these countries, as well as foreign business.”
Importantly the report goes on to conclude that these events ‘could exacerbate social unrest, food insecurity, corruption and ultimately could lead to political risk’. These are the indirect and too often hidden effects of climate change and why it’s essential that even during a global recession governments put climate change firmly back on the political agenda.
Practical Action has been working with flooding victims in Bangladesh for over a decade. During this time we have learnt many lessons about what does and doesn’t work, lessons which we believe governments could find useful in climate adaptation. That’s why we have organised a European speaker tour in November with Nazmul Chowdhury, who manages our major DFID sponsored project in the country called Pathways from Poverty. It is also why we have organised an event at the climate change talks in Qatar on Wednesday 28 November called “Learning the lessons from flooding in climate adaptation”.
One of the major global mechanisms for tackling climate change is the Green Climate Fund which channels money from developed to developing countries. The Fund has been set up to “provide support to developing countries to limit or reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change”.
After months of haggling over nominations to the board, the first meeting of the fund will finally take place in Geneva, Switzerland from 23 to 25 August. The fund has a target to raise $100billion by 2020 but so far only about $30 billion has been pledged and just $11 billion raised. Much more progress will be needed at the climate talks in Qatar if we are not to see natural disasters becoming financial ones across many emerging economies in South East Asia.